Arlington, VA

The McDonald’s at 4834 Lee Highway is backing off plans to reconfigure its drive-thru, at least for now.

The fast food restaurant withdrew a use permit application at the Arlington County Board over the weekend. That followed a drubbing at the Board’s April meeting, during which county officials blasted the plans, which included a second drive-thru lane and a new recirculating lane that would run between the restaurant and Lee Highway.

After deferring the restaurant’s application to this summer, then deferring it again, the Board accepted a request by McDonald’s to withdraw it entirely.

From a county staff report:

The applicant has requested withdrawal of the use permit request due to the physical constraints in accommodating on-site vehicle circulation, as well as the growing trend toward mobile orders and curbside pick-up. This application was initially heard at the April 2020 County Board meeting and was deferred twice to allow the applicant time to evaluate how it might address concerns regarding pedestrian safety and site circulation with the proposed design of the drive-thru; most recently from the July 2020 County Board meeting to the September 2020 County Board meeting. Therefore, staff recommends the County Board accept the applicant’s request to withdraw the subject use permit application.

In addition to the second ordering lane, intended to reduce incidence of drive-thru traffic backing up to Lee Highway, the plans called for the 1960s era building to be rebuilt as a modernized, two-story restaurant with around the same floor area but a smaller overall footprint.

The new restaurant would have included a kids play area, as the current one has, and was designed to be more efficient for preparing drive-thru and online orders. Other amenities would have included new landscaping and McDonald’s restoring a mural at the nearby Langston-Brown Community Center.

County staff and the John M. Langston Citizens Association opposed the plans, citing concerns about pedestrian safety for those needing to cross the new recirculation lane to access the restaurant, as well as potential backups caused by the lane being blocked by those waiting for the drive-thru.

Despite agreeing to some changes, McDonald’s and its land use attorney continued to argue for the merits of its plan during the April meeting. ARLnow has asked about whether a new plan is in the works, but has yet to hear back.

Photo (1) via Google Maps

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Once can hardly go a block in some parts of Arlington without spotting a Tesla, but the vast majority of vehicles on local streets are still powered by fossil fuels.

The proportion of electric vehicles on the road is expected to increase, albeit gradually. The Edison Electric Institute expects 3.5 million electric vehicles to be sold annually in the U.S. in 2030; that compares to the total of 17 million vehicles sold last year.

The switch to electric will have a number of advantages: less noise along busy roads, lower operating and maintenance costs, and a cleaner environment.

From a WTOP article yesterday:

Switching to electric vehicles would save lives, time and money, and the D.C. area would be one of the prime beneficiaries, a new study finds.

The American Lung Association’s Road to Clean Air report placed D.C. among the top 10 metropolitan areas that would benefit from a switchover to electric cars, buses and trucks by the middle of the century.

Compared with a “business as usual” scenario, the D.C. area would see about 175 fewer premature deaths a year by 2050; nearly 3,000 fewer asthma attacks; about 12,000 fewer lost workdays per year and more than $2 million in public health benefits, the association said in a statement.

Today we’re wondering: how many Arlingtonians are planning to buy an electric vehicle over the next 10 years?

Photo via Twitter

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Four juvenile suspects were taken into police custody after a wild series of events in Crystal City Monday afternoon.

Police say a car left idling and unattended was stolen on the 2600 block of Crystal Drive, by a suspect who hopped out of a car occupied by four other suspects. Later, police located both vehicles near Route 1 and S. Eads Street and conducted a traffic stop.

One suspect was arrested at the scene, while three others were arrested following foot pursuits through parts of Crystal City and Pentagon City. A fifth suspect remains at large.

The crime is the latest in a string of carjackings, car break-ins, and thefts of vehicles left idling or unlocked — often delivery vehicles.

More from an Arlington County Police Departmentment crime report:

RECOVERED STOLEN VEHICLE, 2020-08100143, 2600 block of Crystal Drive. At approximately 4:24 p.m. on August 10, police were dispatched to the report of a stolen vehicle just occurred. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim left his Nissan Maxima idling unattended, during which time Suspect One allegedly exited a Chevrolet Cruze, occupied by four other suspects, and stole the victim’s Maxima. Officers canvassing the area located the Cruze and Maxima in the area of Richmond Highway and S. Eads Street and effected a traffic stop. Suspect One exited the Maxima, which then struck another vehicle, and fled the scene on foot. The other four suspects exited the Cruze and attempted to flee on foot. Suspect Two was stopped as they exited the Cruze. Suspect One and two other suspects were apprehended in the area following brief foot pursuits. The fifth suspect remains outstanding. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the Cruze was reported stolen out of Washington D.C. earlier in the day. Petitions for Grand Larceny Auto, Hit and Run, and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony were sought for juvenile Suspect One. Petitions for Grand Larceny Auto and Conspiracy to Commit a Felony were obtained for the other three juvenile suspects. The investigation is ongoing.

File photo

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Arlington is experiencing a rash of car-related crimes, with three separate theft sprees listed in today’s local crime report.

A man was arrested early Friday morning after security at the Pentagon City mall allegedly saw him break into three unlocked vehicles and try to break into two others. The suspect, who was not named, is expected to be charged with larceny from auto.

Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, another series of auto crimes was reported, this time along Glebe Road just south of Lee Highway. Someone smashed the windows of eight vehicles and stole airbags from seven of them, according to Arlington County police.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, police say they were dispatched to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood for a report of multiple vehicles being stolen. They found three cars had been stolen overnight, including a BMW, a Nissan and a Honda.

Arlington County police warned residents last week to lock their car doors and not leave keys in the car, in response to at least 31 cars being stolen in July. The county has also seen multiple carjackings over the past couple of months. Auto crimes are rising in Arlington, according to the latest ACPD annual report.

More on the most recent thefts, from today’s crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07310016, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:25 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto in progress. Arriving officers located an individual matching the description provided by security and detained him without incident. The investigation determined that mall security observed the suspect enter approximately three unlocked vehicles and attempt to enter two other locked vehicles unsuccessfully. Charges are pending for the suspect.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series),  2020-07310042, 2100 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:09 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 30 and 6:45 a.m. on July 31, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to eight vehicles and stole the airbags from seven of those vehicles. The targeted vehicles were all Honda models. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

GRAND LARCENY AUTO (series), 2020-07310058/07310087, 600 block of 29th Road S./2300 block of S. Inge Street. At approximately 10:06 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicles stolen. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 3 vehicles were stolen from the area overnight. The vehicles are described as: VA VKN8674, 2016 Honda Accord, Brown; VA ULY5206, 2016 BMW 428i, Gray; and VA UJT9855, 2020 Nissan Armada, Beige. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) A man was carjacked by a group of suspects in the Green Valley neighborhood over the weekend

The incident happened early Saturday morning on the 2200 block of S. Shirlington Road. The victim was thrown to the ground as 3-4 men stole his personal belongings and car, police said.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

CARJACKING, 2020-07250042, 2200 block of Shirlington Road. At approximately 2:06 a.m. on July 25, police were dispatched to the report of a grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim exited his vehicle and was approached by 3-4 male suspects who exited a vehicle and approached him. The suspects threatened him, threw him to the ground and stole his personal belongings, then stole his vehicle. The vehicle is described as a 2018 Silver Kia Forte with Maryland license plate 350920T. The suspects are described as Black males, one wearing a white shirt, one with dreadlocks, and one wearing gold sneakers. The investigation is ongoing.

This is at least the fifth reported carjacking in Arlington since June 22.

Today’s crime report also details a pair of other recent, car-related crimes in Arlington.

A D.C. man was arrested following a foot chase, after police allegedly saw him trying to open car doors on the 2000 block of N. Culpeper Street, in the High View Park neighborhood. And police are looking for the suspects who stole two cars and items from other vehicles on the 6000 block of 28th Street N., in the Williamsburg neighborhood.

From ACPD:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (significant), 2020-07260033, 2000 block of N. Culpeper Street. At approximately 2:31 a.m. on July 26, police were dispatched to the report of a subject pulling on door handles. Arriving officers observed the male suspect inside of a vehicle and made contact with him. As they attempted to detain him in handcuffs, the suspect fled on foot. Following a brief foot pursuit, he was taken into custody without incident. The investigation determined that the suspect allegedly entered the unlocked vehicle and stole items of value. Isaiah Wynn, 27, of Washington, D.C., was arrested and charged with Entering or Setting in Motion Vehicle, Obstruction of Justice and Petit Larceny and held on a secure bond.

GRAND LARCENY/LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07240065, 6000 block of 28th Street N. At approximately 8:28 a.m. on July 24, police were dispatched to the late report of a grand larceny auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between 8:30 p.m. on July 23 and 8:15 a.m. on July 24, unknown suspects stole the victim’s vehicle. During the course of the investigation, it was determined that an additional vehicle in the same block was stolen and multiple unlocked vehicles were entered, contents tampered with and items of value stolen. The investigation is ongoing.

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Morning Notes

GOP Senate Primary Today — “Three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s Virginia primary are hoping to win a chance to defeat incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner in November’s general election. Alissa Baldwin, Daniel Gade and Thomas Speciale will be on the Republican primary ballot.” [The Center Square]

Pike Housing Proposal Delayed Amid Outcry — “Faced with criticism on multiple fronts, Arlington County Board members on June 16 essentially threw a staff proposal under the bus, delaying for three months consideration of a controversial plan on how to prioritize affordable housing in the Columbia Pike corridor… It would have increased the maximum threshold, from the current 60 percent of area median income to up to as much as 100 percent, for individuals to qualify for assistance in buying properties.” [InsideNova]

River Rescues Near Chain Bridge Saturday — “D.C. firefighters and police officers on Saturday rescued eight adults and four children who became trapped on rocks in the Potomac River and were cut off from shore by rapidly rising waters in a sudden rainstorm.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Arlington Home Show Cancelled — The pandemic has led to the cancellation of the annual Arlington Home Show and Garden Expo, which had earlier been rescheduled for Saturday, June 27. [Arlington County]

ACPD Investigating Brandishing Incident — “On June 21, police were dispatched to the report of a brandishing. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was driving in the area of 31st Street S. and S. Abingdon Street when he was allegedly cut off by the suspect. The suspect then waved the victim in front of him and began following him. When the victim parked, the suspect pulled alongside his vehicle and a verbal dispute ensued, during which the suspect brandished a firearm.” [Arlington County]

Traffic Getting Back to Normal — “Car and truck volume trends in Virginia are moving back toward normal after plummeting during the COVID-19 shutdown, according to numbers released Friday by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Pandemic traffic on state-maintained interstates and primary roads hit a low on April 12, a Sunday… The numbers have gradually rebounded since, climbing back to around 20 percent below normal by the end of May.” [Virginia Mercury]

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Want to go out and watch a movie, while staying safe and keeping close to home? An event this weekend in Ballston may be for you.

The Ballston Business Improvement District is hosting a “retro drive-in movie night” on Saturday, in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym, &pizza and Spokes Etc. The timeless 80s film The Princess Bride will be shown starting at dusk.

The cost of admission is not quite as retro as the format: it’s $40 per car, though it’s free for members of the BallstonConnect Club. (The club is free for residents of certain apartment buildings and employees of some office buildings, $120/year for others.)

More from the event webpage:

Tired of staying in? Join the BallstonConnect Club for a retro drive-in movie night! That’s right, the drive-in is back, and coming to a neighborhood near you. Grab your date and cruise down to Ballston to watch an exclusive screening of The Princess Bride on Saturday, June 13th.

What date would be complete without dinner? Don’t forget to place your order from &pizza before the screening begins. The event kicks off at 8:15 PM, and the screening begins at dusk.

Space for this event is limited, so get your tickets soon!

Photo via Google Maps

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

With on-demand services businesses finding new customers during the pandemic, local startup Mechaniku is hunting for local car mechanics and willing to pay to get new mechanics trained, if necessary.

Mechaniku is a Columbia Pike-based startup built around the idea of bringing oil changes and other essential car services out of the shop and to people’s houses.

“I need to hire more mechanics,” co-founder Jesse Tyler said. “We’ve got two right now, I need more. We have a guy in Maryland and a guy in Virginia. We were in the process of hiring more mechanics, then all of this happened.”

Tyler said coronavirus has actually halted some of the progress that was being made on building the service, given the reduction in driving, but he’s able to carry on by running the company lean — and by having another source of income.

“We were able to step back a little and put things on hold,” Tyler said. “We don’t carry a lot of debt, we’ve built as we’ve grown.”

Tyler said he’s also been reevaluating the pricing model, which is currently $100 for an at-home oil change. With most oil changes averaging $50, it’s a little pricey, but Tyler said he has to balance the company revenue with paying the mechanics fairly.

“We need to figure out how to get more people interested,” Tyler said. “We might reexamine our pricing model. We may cut it from $100 to maybe $80.”

Tyler said he is hoping Mechaniku can be poised to take advantage of the end of the pandemic, when people start driving more but are still a bit wary to take their cars to a bricks-and-mortar garage for an oil change.

“Coronavirus has slowed everything to a halt, but we expect it will pick back up,” Tyler said, noting that he’s able to serve people needing an oil change immediately but said demand has been low.

Those interested in applying for a mechanic position should email Tyler at [email protected] or call him at (202) 880-2430.

“Obviously, more experience the better, but I’ll pay for people to get trained and certified,” Tyler said. “You just need to be able to pass a background check and have a vehicle to drive.”

Image via Mechaniku

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Morning Notes

Country Club Files Layoff Notice — Arlington’s Washington Golf and Country Club has filed a WARN Act notice of potential layoffs. The club said it may lay off up to 188 employees due to the coronavirus pandemic. [InsideNova]

Local Eye Doctor Sees Big Decline in Business — “Dr. Nicole Renaud, an Arlington, Virginia, ophthalmologist, said she had a full schedule of patients and worked long hours before the pandemic. Now, she sees a few patients a week, mostly through telemedicine… As a result, her practice’s income has fallen by a stunning 90%.” [WTOP]

SUVs Stolen from Koons Toyota Dealership — “At approximately 1:44 p.m. on April 21, police were dispatched to the report of several stolen vehicles. Upon arrival, it was determined that during an inventory of vehicles, four 2020 silver Toyota Highlanders were determined to have been stolen between April 7 and April 21.” [Arlington County]

Civ Fed Zooms into Virtual Future — “For 104 years, the Arlington County Civic Federation held its monthly meetings in a group setting. But on April 21, to address the COVID-19 public-health situation, the organization conducted its proceedings in a ‘virtual’ setting. ‘We are experimenting,’ Civic Federation president Allan Gajadhar said at the opening of the meeting, held on the online platform Zoom.” [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

APS Creates Learning at Home Guide — “We have created a Learning at Home webpage that pulls details on instruction, additional educational resources for families, activities and resources for coping with stress. If you have questions, please send them to [email protected]” [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]

How to Report Price Gouging in Virginia — “If you see excessive price increases for coronavirus (COVID-19) necessities, report it to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.” [Facebook, Attorney General Mark Herring]

Costco Encouraging Social Distancing — Costco in Pentagon City has had lines out of the door every morning since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The line has gotten longer — and more spread out — in the interest of social distancing. [Twitter]

Airports Remain Open — Reagan National Airport remains open, reportedly with no plans to limit access. Most stores and restaurants at DCA also remain open, but with modified hours. [Twitter, Twitter]

Signature Theater Show Goes Online — “Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is looking to make its production of Dani Stoller’s ‘Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes’ available online to ticketholders.” [New York Times]

Ramen Shop Offering Free Food for Seniors — “Gaijin Ramen Shop management and staff are heartbroken by elders without food because of the COVID-19 pandemic… We are offering FREE delivery of fresh vegetable ramen soup to any elderly in need.” [Community Post]

Free Pizza for Kids at Troy’s Italian — “On March 20, from 12-8 p.m. we will be doing free pizza slices for kids. We are also offering contactless curbside pickup. Call us at (703) 528-2828 when you get here, and we will bring the food out, and put it into the trunk of your car for you.” [Facebook]

Vehicle Inspection Enforcement Suspended — “Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

New Local Facebook Page — “Community activist and Arlingtonian Kellen MacBeth has centralized tools and resources for people in need during the coronavirus outbreak. His Facebook page, Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19, is up to 2,000 members in just one day of its existence.” [WDVM]

Nearby: Coronavirus Strikes Falls Church Senior Center — “A resident at The Kensington assisted living center in the City of Falls Church has tested positive for COVID-19, the Fairfax County Health Department reported today. It is the first reported case of the coronavirus in the City.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings.

MotoRefi, a Ballston-based car refinancing company, has fueled up with a new batch of funding and welcomed a former Uber executive along for the ride.

The company just raised $8.6 million in Series A funding, an announcement that was paired with news that former Uber executive and D.C.-based venture capitalist Rachel Holt is joining the company’s Board of Directors. Holt was an early investor in MotoRefi but joined the company in an official capacity this month.

“I’m eager to bring my experience building Uber to MotoRefi’s Board,” Holt said in a press release. “MotoRefi is transforming the world of auto financing. I’m proud to have been an early investor and am extremely excited about the team they’ve built.”

The press release noted that the new funding will allow the company to scale up with new lenders and partners.

MotoRefi checks your auto loan interest rate and tries to offer a better rate than what is provided by the dealership, factoring in things like improved credit scores.

“You make payments every month, but do you ever wonder if you could be paying less?” the company said on its website. “That’s where MotorRefi comes in.”

The company, started in 2017, aims to simplify the refinancing process to make it more accessible for the average driver still making payments on their car.

Photo courtesy MotoRefi

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